Modulation of wound healing in small animals

This project will use small animal models (such as mice, rats or rabbits) to assist in the development of new wound healing therapies.


Traumatic injury is common, affecting millions of people each year. Control of blood loss, disability and disfigurement due to scarring are critical issues following trauma. The NHS spends approximately £8.3 billion annually on treating wounds, £5.6 billion of which is on chronic wounds (leg, pressure, and diabetic foot ulcers). These debilitating wounds, which may go unhealed for years, particularly afflict the elderly, so with an aging population, their prevalence will increase in the future. Slow-healing (or otherwise defective) wounds are a significant burden to patients and their quality of life, their families, the NHS, and the economy. Existing treatments are largely ineffective – new, effective therapies are urgently required.

Plan of work

Surgical wounds will be created under general anaesthesia and test materials applied to the wound or the animal as a whole (e.g. by injection or in feed). Healing, such as rate of closure, will be assessed over time using digital photographs, and by analysis of tissue samples taken post-mortem. The effect of a treatment will be compared to animals given placebo or established treatment.

Animal welfare

Animals will be frequently monitored for signs of discomfort and any necessary remedial action will be taken to relieve that discomfort (e.g. administration of pain killers). Experience has shown that the procedures to be followed in this project are well tolerated by the animals we use.

Three Rs


The body’s response to injury is complex, involving cells and processes throughout the body. Currently, it is impossible to replicate these complexities in laboratory experiments; animal studies are necessary if new therapies are to be developed.


Our protocols and methods of assessment have been designed to minimise animal use. We anticipate using 2,500 mice, 500 rats and 150 rabbits in this project. Only test materials considered suitable, according to existing data or after preliminary testing on cells or on pieces of skin, will be investigated in this work.


Wounds will be created under general anaesthesia and post-surgical pain-relief given. The size and number of wounds, the frequency and method of dosing, and the frequency and duration of assessments are highly refined – and new refinements continually considered.


Work undertaken in the past 15 years, under similar licences , was instrumental in progressing 11 new therapies to clinical use. In this project, we will continue to use our well-established small animal model protocols to develop further, more advanced, products.

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